Let­ter shares teacher’s in­spi­ra­tion

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

Ngaire Taikato is pas­sion­ate about teach­ing, of­ten go­ing above and be­yond the call of duty.

Now that com­mit­ment has been re­warded with the ti­tle of one of New Zealand’s most in­spir­ing teach­ers.

The com­pe­ti­tion was run by Ware­house Sta­tionery, which called for students to write a let­ter about an in­spir­ing teacher, and thanks to Caedin Tau­mata, Mrs Taikato is one of 30 teach­ers to make the grade.

‘‘I’m ab­so­lutely rapt. [His let­ter] just bought tears to my eyes. He’s very quiet, very hum­ble, he’s an awe­some kid. I just think it was gor­geous,’’ Mrs Taikato said.

Caedin wrote: ‘‘ She [Mrs Taikato] is go­ing through a hard time . . . but she still comes to school and makes us all feel spe­cial’’.

He wrote that Mrs Taikato was al­ways laugh­ing and jok­ing and taught the chil­dren they could laugh at them­selves, and de­spite all the ex­tra things she did, ‘‘she is still a great teacher and has time for us’’.

Mrs Taikato is a mother of two, teaches a class of 28, and is in­volved with all school ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing sport, mu­sic, choir and cul­tural groups. She also runs a yearly pro­duc­tion which the chil­dren per­form at the lo­cal the­atre.

‘‘Per­form­ing arts has al­ways been my way to launch a child, as far as their self- es­teem and con­fi­dence is con­cerned. It’s just an area where they can en­joy suc­cess and then that suc­cess spills over into the class­room.’’

She en­cour­ages the chil­dren to work with each other, ‘‘peer tu­tor­ing’’ and con­fer­enc­ing on their work, and uses real- world ideas to teach and to re­ward be­hav­iour. She gives the chil­dren ‘‘money’’ in lots of 50, 100 or even 1000 if they have be­haved es­pe­cially well, and they keep track of each trans­ac­tion there­fore prac­tis­ing maths.

Each fort­night they use the money to bid on auc­tions, usu­ally toys or art sup­plies bought by Mrs Taikato. The chil­dren soon came up with an idea to have prizes that didn’t cost her money and now bid on such things as a day at the teacher’s desk.

Pre­vi­ously a Maori lan­guage teacher, Mrs Taikato speaks Maori with the chil­dren ev­ery day and they are start­ing to use it in their own con­ver­sa­tions.

The hard times Caedin wrote about, in­volve Mrs Taikato’s mother, who is bat­tling can­cer.

‘‘I had to share that with them. I said, ‘If you see me cry­ing don’t freak out, I’ll just be think­ing about Mum’. Some­times I’ll be singing or read­ing a story and it pulls on the heart­strings and a few tears start to fall, and a cou­ple of them will come and pat my back and not a word is said.’’

Yet de­spite the re­la­tion­ship with her students and the high praise they give her, she said it’s just the way she’s al­ways been.

‘‘I don’t know about this word ‘ in­spi­ra­tional’, though, be­cause ev­ery­thing I’ve done has al­ways been for the kids and it will al­ways be that way.’’

Mrs Taikato’s achieve­ment will be recog­nised dur­ing a spe­cial school assem­bly.

SIM­PLY THE BEST: Ngaire Taikato of Strath­more School, Toko­roa has won a prize for one of the county’s most in­spi­ra­tional teach­ers af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated by one of her students, Caedin Tau­mata, 10.

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